Amsterdam Holidays 2016 | Travel Guide

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

The Eurostar Guide

Travel by train to Amsterdam with Eurostar and arrive right in the heart of the city.
With one simple change in Brussels, getting there couldn't be simpler.

To help you make the most of your trip, we've teamed up with local experts to create an insider's guide to Amsterdam. Just keep scrolling to discover the best things to see and do – perfect for history buffs, art-lovers and urban explorers.

Amsterdam


Art and culture

The Eurostar Guide

Image Credit: Amanda Kwan
  • 1 The Merchant House
  • 2 Huis Marseille, Museum for Photography
  • 3 Rijksmuseum
  • 4 Van Gogh Museum
  • 5 Stedelijk Museum
  • 6 FOAM

The Merchant House

The Merchant House is a beautiful space in a historical location in Amsterdam, devoted solely to art. As a city full of art and history, the Dutch capital has many places with rich history and culture, but The Merchant House is a place that seems to combine it all: history, modern art and a vital new vision on presenting art. The art space is located at the Herengracht where, in the 17th century, mayors, rich merchants and influential regents lived. To this very day, it is seen as the most important canal in the city.

Founder Marsha Plotnitsky had the Dutch merchant in mind when she developed the concept of her art space. These merchants, seeking personal gain with their trade, also brought wealth to the city with their investments and by buying art.

During my visit I was overwhelmed by the amazing atmosphere. The place felt new to me, but at the same time well-known. I was warmly welcomed by founder Marsha Plotnitsky. The Winter Group Show exhibition had just started, presenting the Italian artist Pino Pinelli and Dutch artists Kees Visser and André de Jong – artists that are exploring post-minimalism.

When I left, Marsha emphasised that you can always call for a visit and she likes to welcome visitors outside opening hours on Friday afternoon, 12pm to 7:30pm.

Huis Marseille, Museum for Photography

Huis Marseille is Amsterdam's first photography museum, opening its doors in 1999. Located in a typical city centre Amsterdam house, the photography focusses on visual language. Photos on display are characterised by a spirit of inquiry, investigating experimental innovations. With ever-changing collections, the museum is able to keep displaying work with social relevance. Over the recent years, renowned names such as Viviane Sassen, David Goldblatt, Dana Lixenberg, Walker Evans and Guy Tillim and Rineke Dijkstra have exhibited in the museum.

Up until September 2013, Huis Marseille was only located at the Keizersgracht 401. However, following an expansion, the museum now includes the building next door at number 399, bringing the total number of exhibition spaces up to fourteen.

The museum's two 17th century buildings are kept in their original style, meaning Huis Marseille combines the experience of modern photography with the lush interior of its two authentic merchant houses, including two magnificent ceiling paintings, marble floors and a Louis XIV style period room.

  • Keizersgracht 401,
    1016 EK Amsterdam

  • Tuesday to Sunday from 11am to 6pm

    Closed on Monday 27 April, 25 December, 1 January and (in the week prior to an opening) during installation of new exhibitions – please check before you visit.

  • +31 20 531 8989

  • www.huismarseille.nl/en
    www.twitter.com/HuisMarseille

Rijksmuseum

Image Credit: Rijksmuseum

In the 80 galleries of the Rijksmuseum over 800 years of Dutch art and history van be found from the Middle Ages to the present day. It is located on the Museum Square, next to the Stedelijk museum and the Van Gogh Museum.

Arguably the most famous piece in the museum is the Nightwatch by Rembrandt van Rijn but with more than 8,000 objects on display including those by Dutch masters Frans Hals and Jan Steen, make sure you allow plenty of time for a visit and pick up a map of the museum's four floors.

Van Gogh Museum

Image Credit: Van Gogh Museum

At the Van Gogh Museum you'll discover a lot more than just the artist's masterpieces. Of course, a prominent place in the museum is given to great works such as The Bedroom, Sunflowers and The Potato Eaters, but be prepared to leap into Van Gogh's world and follow his development as an artist, too.

Explore why he found comfort in a wheat field and what he wanted to express in his art. Uncover his most personal ambitions, ideas, letters and drawings. And discover how he found the motivation for his art from the love and hope he experienced, as well as suffering and anxiety. Some of his most common themes are explored further too, such as his interpretation of nature, his search for colour and his ambition to paint farmers.

This must-see museum provides an in-depth look into the life, art, ambitions and emotions of this thoroughly influential and remarkable artist. And if you book online you'll avoid long queues!

  • Museumplein 6,
    1071 DJ Amsterdam

  • 25 March - 14 July 2016: 9am to 6pm, Fridays until 10pm

    15 July - 4 September 2016: 9am to 7pm, Fridays until 10pm, Saturdays until 9pm

    5 September - 6 November 2016: 9am to 6pm, Fridays until 10pm

    All other days: 9am to 5pm and Fridays until 10pm

  • +31 20 570 5200

  • www.vangoghmuseum.nl/en
    www.twitter.com/vangoghmuseum

Stedelijk Museum

Image Credit: Stedelijk Museum

The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam has been located on the Museumplein since 1895. It's next to the van Gogh museum and is considered to be the most important museum of modern art and design in Holland. After an eight year renovation, the museum was expanded with a new futuristic wing in 2012. The museum is nicknamed 'the bathtub' because of the shape of the building, and it's hugely popular with visitors from all over the world.

Just like the capital city of the Netherlands, the Stedelijk Museum offers an eclectic mix of old and new, traditional and hip. There is art on display that dates back 150 years and in its varied collection of 90,000 objects, you'll find some world-class pieces. Get inspired by key movements like CoBrA, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, and Conceptual Art, or iconic works by Appel, Cézanne, Chagall, De Kooning, Koons, Malevich, Mondriaan, Picasso, Pollock, Rietveld and Warhol. Year-round, you'll find temporary exhibitions featuring renowned artists, but also discover young, contemporary talent.

Also a leading design museum, visitors can discover furniture, posters, jewellery and ceramics dating back to as early as 1900. In its museum shop you can find souvenirs, gifts, books and the latest work by Dutch designers.

  • Museumplein 10,
    1071 DJ Amsterdam

  • Daily 10am to 6pm, Friday 10am to 10pm

    On Friday January 8, the first level galleries will be closed from 6pm because of a private event – please check before you visit.

  • +31 20 573 2911

  • www.stedelijk.nl/en
    www.twitter.com/stedelijk

FOAM

Image Credit: C Christian van der Kooy

You'll find this photography museum in a stunning canal house whose large windows beautifully complement the pictures and multimedia shows on display. Every few months the museum hosts exhibits from both up-and-coming talents and international artists showcasing a wide range of contemporary photography and all the latest trends. Past exhibitors have included Anton Corbijn, Diane Arbus and Helen Levitt.

In general, the museum places an emphasis on glamour and portrait photography, street photography and documentary photography and pictures can be bought at the commercial gallery. There's also a bookshop, library and café, making it a great place for photography-lovers to while away an afternoon.

Amsterdam


History

The Eurostar Guide

Image Credit: Amanda Kwan
  • 1 The Anne Frank House
  • 2 Amsterdam Museum
  • 3 The Cromhouthuis / Biblical Museum
  • 4 The Canal House
  • 5 Museum Willet-Holthuysen
  • 6 The National Maritime Museum

The Anne Frank House

One of the three most popular museums in Amsterdam is "het Anne Frank Huis". It's where Jewish girl Anne and her family went into hiding during the Holocaust and where she wrote her diary. The Diary of Anne Frank is one of the most read books in the world and papers of the original diary are on display at the museum. The most important and interesting part of the museum is the secret annexe where Anne hid from the German invaders and a collection of personal documents and items belonging to the Frank family, giving visitors a vivid insight into their daily life in hiding.

Although the museum was established in 1957, Anne's message about anti-semitism, racism and freedom is still very much alive. It's a message that people still hear today, more than 50 years after the museum opened its doors, as Anne Frank House is visited by more than one million people a year. The museum gives visitors a great insight into the struggles people went through during the Second World War. When visiting the museum it is highly recommended to purchase tickets in advance as it can get pretty busy.

  • Prinsengracht 263-267,
    1016 GV Amsterdam

  • November 1 through March 31: Daily open from 9am to 7pm (Saturdays from 9am to 9m)

    April 1 through October 31: Daily open from 9am to 9pm, (Saturdays from 9am to 10pm)

    In July and August the museum is daily open till 10pm

    Last Admittance: Thirty minutes prior to closing. There are exceptions so please check before you visit

  • +31 20 556 7105

  • www.annefrank.org
    www.twitter.com/annefrankhouse

Amsterdam Museum

Image Credit: Richard de Bruijn

The Amsterdam Museum brings the Dutch capital's history to life and combines the present with the future. Located in a listed historic building just a short walking distance from Dam square, the museum is the perfect introduction to the city and all its beauty. Get to know the local community and its rich history: from Rembrandt, the Golden Age and famous canals to football club Ajax, the red light district and coffee shops, in the permanent exhibition Amsterdam DNA, which takes less than an hour to explore.

The Amsterdam Museum has a lot more on offer. There is a vast collection of historical items and temporary exhibitions. For children between the ages of four and twelve the museum has a special attraction. In the interactive little orphanage, children and their parents can experience what life was like in an orphanage during the 17th century.

The Cromhouthuis / Biblical Museum

In one of the most beautiful canal houses in Amsterdam, you'll get to know the Cromhout family. The Cromhouts have lived in four majestic residencies along the Herengracht for nearly two decades and today their homes are just as impressive as during the Dutch golden era.

Strolling through the different rooms you'll be given an audio tour with information about seven generations of the Cromhout family. Listen to the story of their extreme wealth, their influence on the city and Amsterdam culture and art, their religion and their international relationships.

On the upper floors of the Cromhouthuis, a Biblical museum has been established. Here you will find special collection pieces such as rare bibles, archaeological findings and Egyptian artefacts. Personal stories and a wealth of information will take you on a journey through the world of the Bible. In the museum you will also find the permanent exhibition called "Party! In the city!" Here, both kids and adults can discover the meaning of religious holidays and how they should be celebrated. In the basement you'll find the Cromhout Café where you can relax in style with a well-deserved cup of coffee or delicious lunch. Outside the museum is a secluded courtyard, a little piece of heaven on Dutch soil.

The Canal House

Image Credit: Thijs Wolzak

As well as its coffee shops, the football club Ajax and the red light district, Amsterdam's famous for something else: its canals! The rich history of the Dutch capital's waterways is celebrated at Het Grachtenhuis, the Canal House Museum, set in a beautiful 17th century house overlooking the Herengracht canal.

The museum documents the history of the "Amsterdamse grachtengordel" (Amsterdam's canal ring area) through a multimedia exhibition as well as projections and holograms. The canals that make up the ring area are were built in the 17th century and are still considered to be one of the architectural marvels of the world. A visit to the museum will most certainly bring the city’s rich history to life, making it a must-see for everyone who loves Amsterdam.

Museum Willet-Holthuysen

Image Credit: Museum Willet-Holthuysen

Experience life in a posh Amsterdam canal house. Museum Willet-Holthuysen is located in a canal house from the seventeenth century at the Herengracht 605. The name of the museum stems from the last occupants of this gorgeous premises: Abraham and Louisa Willet-Holthuysen. After she passed away in 1895, Louisa donated the imposing house and its furniture to the city of Amsterdam, on the condition that it would be turned into a museum. The contents of the home consists of a unique art collection, including antique silver, ceramics, statues, paintings and photos. The exhibit is one of the only preserved private collections in the Netherlands. The impressive ballroom in Louis XVI-style, the dining room, the salons of the lady and gentleman of the house, the garden and the monumental staircase in the heart of the building remind you of the special life of the Willet couple. The kitchen and the scullery in the basement provide us with an image of the daily life of their staff. There is also a beautiful garden, a green oasis in the city centre constructed in eighteen-century French style and furnished with plants and trees from the period.

  • Herengracht 605,
    1017 CE Amsterdam

  • Monday to Friday from 10am to 5pm
    Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 5pm

    The museum is closed on 27 April (King's Day), 25 December and 1 January. Closing time on 5, 24 and 31 December is 4pm

  • +31 20 523 1822

  • www.willetholthuysen.nl
    www.twitter.com/museumwillet

The National Maritime Museum

Image Credit: Eddo Hartmann

In 2011 The National Maritime Museum (Het Scheepvaart Museum) reopened after an extensive renovation. The museum is housed in the Arsenal, a historic building that was previously used as a storehouse of the Dutch Navy. In the museum you'll find exhibitions, a library, and one of the largest maritime collections in the world. The collection contains many different items such as world maps, weapons, scale models and paintings of historical sea battles and naval officers. A free audio tour is available in eleven languages that will take you through the museum highlights.

Moored beside the museum you'll discover an impressive replica of the East Indiaman, an 18th-century cargo ship of the Dutch East India Company. The original ship was used by the Dutch East India Company to transport goods from the Dutch republic to the East Indies. Dutch culture is very much shaped by the sea as you'll discover at Het Scheepvaart museum. It's a great place to visit if you want to have a glimpse into Dutch maritime history.

Amsterdam


Urban explorer

The Eurostar Guide

Image Credit: Amanda Kwan
  • 1 Cat Cabinet
  • 2 Artis Royal Zoo
  • 3 Science Centre Nemo
  • 4 The 'IJ Hallen' Flea Market

Cat Cabinet

Image Credit: Cat Cabinet

The story of how the Cat Cabinet came into existence is quite remarkable. Owner Bob Meijer first visited the house at 497 Herengracht in 1985. When he saw a black cat sitting by the kitchen window he knew he had to buy the house to create the Cat Cabinet, a feline-themed gallery in memory of a ginger cat that had accompanied him through his years as a student.

Every year, Meijer bought another work of art for his cat, resulting in a collection including pieces by Picasso, Rembrandt, Toulouse-Lautrec, Corneille and Sal Meijer. The house – which featured in Ocean's Twelve – is still residential, with Meijer and his wife still living on the top two storeys. Down on the ground floor though, look out for the four real cats, Shirley, Oscar, Noesje and Lion, who love meeting new visitors!

  • Herengracht 497,
    1017 BT Amsterdam

  • Monday to Friday from 10am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday from 12pm to 5pm

    Holidays: 10am to 5pm. Closed on December 25th, January 1st, April 27th

  • +31 20 626 9040

  • www.kattenkabinet.nl
    www.facebook.com/CatCabinet

Artis Royal Zoo

Image Credit: Ronald van Weeren

Nature, culture and heritage meet at Artis. Every tree, animal, building, microbe and planet has its own unique story to tell. The first Artis stories were conceived in 1838 and new stories continue to be born every day. Be amazed by the numerous animal species living together in the Primate House and Aviary. Discover the tiniest organisms at Micropia, the world's first museum of microbes. Travel through space in the Planetarium. See the giraffes mingle with zebras, ostriches and springbok on the Savannah. Let yourself be surrounded by hundreds of fluttering butterflies in the Butterfly Pavilion. Marvel at the tropical fish in the historical Aquarium. Stroll through the city park that's steeped in history and boasts centuries-old trees and a wealth of flora. Enjoy the distinctive ambience of Plantage café and restaurant. Or daydream while lounging in a chair at the fountain's edge on Artis Square. Experience nature and discover how important it is in our daily lives. A greater understanding of nature leads to greater respect for every living thing.

Science Centre Nemo

Only a 15 minute walk from the Amsterdam Central Station, you'll find the largest science centre in Holland. The centre is housed in a remarkable boat-like museum located on the river and was opened by abdicated Dutch Queen Beatrix in 1997. The building is designed by Italian architect and engineer Renzo Piano, who also designed the Shard in London, and offers five floors of science excitement for all ages.

At NEMO, over half a million people a year experience how captivating science can be, making it the fifth most visited museum in the Netherlands. There are plenty of things to do there such as going to exhibitions, doing experiments in a real laboratory and educating yourself on sustainable electricity. To quench your thirst and fill your stomach there is a roof terrace 22 metres above water level that provides visitors with a great view over the Dutch capital. If you're into science NEMO is definitely worth the visit!

  • Oosterdok 2,
    1011 VX Amsterdam

  • Tuesday to Sunday: 10am to 5:30pm. Open Mondays during school holidays and from 28 March to 4 September 2016

    Exceptions apply during holidays - please check before you visit

  • +31 20 531 3233

  • www.e-nemo.nl/en/
    www.twitter.com/nemoamsterdam

The "IJ Hallen" Flea Market

A fun, free way of reaching the flea market is by taking the small ferry from NDSM shipyard behind Central Station.

Inside the market, you'll find all sorts of secondhand products on display and you might very well find a hidden treasure! It's the largest flea market in Europe so make sure you allow plenty of time to browse and barter. An early start usually pays off too if you're looking for a hidden gem, and from 4pm most of the traders will start to pack up for the day.

As a photographer, I always go on a hunt for old picture frames with convex glass, although there are always other things that catch my eye and I've been known to come home with an old lunchbox or an antique mirror, too. Whatever you're looking for, the market is so large and diverse that there's a good chance you'll find it! Make sure you take plenty of money with you though as there's no cash machine at the market.